A sampling from the past week of entries in The Spokesman-Review blog SportsLink at spokesman.com/sportslink.
It’s hard to believe but basketball season is right around the corner.
A sure sign of that is Gonzaga’s Kraziness in the Kennel, the first chance for fans to check out the latest edition of the Bulldogs. The event, which features a team scrimmage, poster giveaway and autograph session, will be Saturday, Oct. 12, at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Doors open at 3 with festivities beginning at 4. If past seasons are any indication, get there early. The place is typically packed.
The Bulldogs, 32-3 last year, return starting guards Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski, backups last season to the frontcourt tandem of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, both of whom have moved on to the NBA, will take on larger roles.
Familiar faces returning include David Stockton, Kyle Dranginis and Drew Barham. Newcomers include freshmen Luke Meikle and Ryan Edwards, and transfers Gerard Coleman (Providence), Angel Nunez (Louisville) and Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky). Coleman is eligible immediately and expected to contribute at the ‘3’, Nunez, who can play the 3 or 4, becomes eligible in December.
Wiltjer will sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules.
The Massey Ratings, compiled by Kenneth Massey with the assistance of OurSports Central, list the Spokane Chiefs at No. 6 among 22 Western Hockey League clubs. The Chiefs’ offense is ranked fourth, which would probably even surprise the Chiefs.
• Until the Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips can prove otherwise, the Portland Winterhawks are the elite team in the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division.
The Winterhawks are strongly favored to win the division race this 2013-14 season. Portland easily won the division title last year on the way to the WHL championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup. Spokane and Tri-City had strong seasons last year, and Seattle and Everett made it a 5-for-5 divisional showing in the postseason.
Special-teams coach Eric Russell touched on the performance so far of punter Mike Bowlin, who is averaging a pretty pedestrian 37.2 yards per punt. That’s an especially disappointing number for someone with a leg as strong as Bowlin’s.
Russell said it’s mostly about mechanics.
“Mike won’t keep his head down on the ball and jams himself,” Russell said. “Now, we’ve had a few sky kicks … but he hasn’t punted the ball anywhere close to what he did a year ago or what he was doing in fall camp, and it’s all fundamentals. I don’t know how much of it’s mental, but we’re trying to get that stuff fixed, there’s no question, because he hasn’t been what we need him to be.”